Weekly Photo Challenge: A Bargain

Waitrose shelf label for pies

Regular readers may remember that I’m English. I spell aluminium all wrong the British way. We don’t get turkey in November over here, or the other traditional comfort foods of the American season that I’ve grown to love, like sweet potato casserole.

No, no, it’s OK. Don’t feel you have to sympathise. We’re British. We’re used to our food being rubbish and our beer hot.

I suppose you might say this ‘tender and succulent’ chicken pie is the British version of a Thanksgiving turkey and Waitrose’s save 50p offer the British equivalent of Black Friday. 

I don’t really want to do anything other than sigh at Britain’s poshest supermarket’s spurious apostrophe – but if you twist my arm, this is solid evidence to support my controversial view that apostrophes of possession should be dropped because (1) so many people get them wrong (2) they irritate the people who don’t and (3) there’s never any real ambiguity without them.

One thing that does puzzle me is why these chicken pies are advertised as hot when they’re refrigerated. I’m a pie watcher, but I’ve never seen cold hot pies before. It’s not exactly one for the Advertising Standards Authority, but…

I’m off in search of vicarious pleasure from the other entries for this week’s photo challenge: It’s Not This Time Of Year Without…

P.S. I was only joking about our food. It’s fine, honestly.

39 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: A Bargain

      • lifelessons says:

        Have you seen the movie Michael? My favorite scene is where they order one slice of every kind of pie and pass them around the table taking bites. Then the woman, who is an amateur songwriter, gets up with the band and sings a song she wrote about how much she loves pie. It is just charming, as is the entire movie. You must see it. John Travolta and Andy McDowell and Jean Stapleton.

  1. margaret21 says:

    I think you’d have a job getting the apostrophe of possession abolished. Most people would probably continue in their own sweet way, right or wrong. And we Grammar Nazis seem something to rail against.

      • susurrus says:

        I don’t think it’s going to be around for too long. I was taught that grammar rules are descriptive not proscriptive and the tide is clear to see. We should bite the bullet now and sacrifice the socially divisive and not wildly useful apostrophe of possession for the apostrophe of omission which is less contentious and quite handy.

    • susurrus says:

      I’m a massive fan of one of Cracker Barrel’s mid-week specials – the chicken pot pie. It’s on my to-do list any time I’m in the US, other than that I don’t fancy having lunch at 11.30. I’m distraught if I get there at 11.55 to find they’ve already sold out.

      It’s my idea of pie heaven.

    • susurrus says:

      You two are wearing the cloaks of anonymity for this one, so I’m not sure which of you has confessed to overindulging on pie… not that they’d get any reproaches from me.

  2. biggardenblog says:

    Never any ambiguity? The readers comprehension of the intended meaning was uncertain. In fact, none of them grasped it immediately, some turning to the editors notes for help. The problem was twofold: one of numbers and attribution

    • susurrus says:

      I did have to read the sentence ‘The readers…’ twice, but that’s not just about the missing apostrophe. It could be recast as: ‘It wasn’t clear that the readers had understood’. Also if I wasn’t primed to anticipate an apostrophe in that situation, it might be easier to read. That’s hard to tell. But ‘editors notes’ is easy enough.

      We manage to navigate ‘its’, which doesn’t have an apostrophe of possession (‘Susan’s button fell off’, but ‘its button fell off’). That fools most spellchecks in my experience. And when we speak, we understand without punctuation at all unless someone helps us out with air quotes. Now that might be fun – if we had to punctuate with air gestures for full stops, commas – everything. If we got excited it could be like having a mini-workout.

    • susurrus says:

      I skipped last week’s and was tempted to skip this one too, but then I remembered taking this. I saw a similar sign in another store saying ‘Save up to £1’ on a camera that I was sorely tempted to photograph, but I had just set off a loud and lengthy alarm system off by half-closing a lid on a Macbook and didn’t want to be frog-marched from the store.

    • susurrus says:

      The rules are more complicated than we might think if we’ve managed to internalise them. Just try explaining all cases to someone who hasn’t. A good number of unsure people clearly suffer from pangs of apostrophe anxiety and slip them in when the word ends in ‘s’ to try to appease those of us who require them.

      • Anabel Marsh says:

        Yes, I think you are right. I recently explained to a well-educated young woman why “it’s” wasn’t the possessive and she said it was the first time she’d ever understood it. Quite pleased with myself. I also explained to the same person how our d’Hondt voting system worked and I am now considered quite the guru 😉

  3. kayrpea61 says:

    You just need “Apostrophe Man”, Susan – he’ll come over and sort ’em out 😉
    BTW don’t weaken – make sure keep the “h” on your verandah, and the “u” in colour, as we rough colonials in the Antipodes attempt to do. 🙃

    • susurrus says:

      I was surprised to find out that computer languages use ‘color’ and am having to get used to that. I shouldn’t have been, of course. It was a bit like the shock of finding a random assortment of British food in the foreign food aisle in Mississippi.

      • kayrpea61 says:

        If you go into the computer settings, and choose Language “English – UK”, all will be well, Susan. Even “English – Australia” is better than the default US 😜

        • susurrus says:

          I didn’t explain myself very well. It’s for HTML and CSS and I don’t think you can use UK English settings for those. But thanks for your kindness – I’ll double check!

  4. Oddment says:

    Such a simple little blob of ink, and such complications! I take all apostrophes personally because my last name is O’Hern, and people ask me if there’s a comma in it. I try to be nice but I think I sound rabid. APOSTROPHE! NOT COMMA! And all computers hate my last name because of the apostrophe. When I see all these extra apostrophes floating around (e.g., “pie’s”), I want to grab them and send them to the computers that don’t have any for my name. “The Spurious Apostrophe” is a lovely toothsome phrase. And what a title it would make!

  5. Clare Flourish says:

    Fortnum’s is Britain’s poshest supermarket.

    I am no longer irritated by errant apostrophes. Mr Trump’s cabinet choices, the economy being Brexited even before Brexit happens, Mme. Le Pen’s good chance of becoming President, Nigel Farage, smiling, all irritate me so much that I no longer enjoy my grammar pedantry. I prefer getting thing’s right, though.

    • susurrus says:

      Yep, thing’s can only get better. I’m not sure Fortnum and Mason will be overjoyed to be called a supermarket though. That’s like calling a Plant Centre a Garden Centre. Very shocking to those who make a distinction.

      • Clare Flourish says:

        As I understand it, the apostrophe of possession started out as an apostrophe of omission. We elide “Mr Shakespeare his plays” to “Mr Shakespeare’s plays”. Though that only works for single men…

        • susurrus says:

          That’s what it is – a ploy to take over the written word. First the seemingly inoffensive apostrophes of omission creep in, then we’re afflicted by dastardly apostrophes of possession and now they’re after our fruit and veg. And our pies.

    • susurrus says:

      Thank you! I’ve a feeling we’re about to see a revolution in education, especially for people who are beyond school age. There is so much material out there for those who want to learn.

  6. John Kingdon says:

    Careful! The apostrophe may be perfectly correct. They reduced the weight of Toblerone bars, Have they now taken 25% of the pie’s original weight and it’s only 157.5g? I’d be asking why they decided to print that rather pointless “subject to availability” at the bottom of the ticket. And you’ll be asking “Why did I not capitalise the first S in my quotation or, indeed, surround that S (or this one) with quotation marks?” Or maybe not. 🙂

    • susurrus says:

      You made me laugh with that one. I didn’t weigh the pie before eating it.

      Self-protection clauses like ‘subject to availability’ can create an atmosphere like that of the bad old days Bill Bryson immortalises in ‘Notes From A Small Island’ when seaside boarding houses had notices restricting hot water and daytime access to rooms.

      Someone is concerned that they might have to cave in and give 50p off a pie from the next full price batch if a customer complains. Given the power of social media, a number of people could descend on stores nationwide clamouring for discounts listed on obsolete shelf labels they didn’t even see but have merely heard about. That could trigger a profit warning on the London Stock Exchange, or a diplomatic incident if one of the customers happened to work for a foreign embassy, so who can blame them?

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